Above all else, James Worsdale is pleased that it was a Kardashian-free awards show.
We’ve come upon the season for Hollywood to repeatedly congratulate itself in grandly celebrated ceremonious fashion and overlook its shortcomings in acknowledging and supporting work by women and people of color to bolster its own sense of self-importance and cultural relevance. But no! We feminists will not stand idly by and eat it all up without criticism! (Well, to be honest, I do eat a lot of it up, but with a perpetually uneasy stomach I examine the attributes of the slosh I consume to determine the causes of the symptoms and criticize the powers that be for feeding it to me).
The Golden Globes happened this past Sunday and reminded us of how white-male driven the Hollywood hierarchy is. This is nothing new to anyone reading this I’m sure, so instead of whining about it I’ll focus on the implications of the winners on a more specific level and examine the discourse surrounding these particular winners, rather than the institution as a whole.
Although recently the Director’s Guild of America honored, again, exclusively male directors with nominations, this shortcoming will hopefully not go quietly unremarked upon. At the press conference following The Kids Are All Right’s win in the Best Picture Comedy or Musical category (directed and co-written by lesbian filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko), one reporter asked (around the 9-minute mark) about the oversight and the challenge for female directors in such a historically male-dominated industry. Mark Ruffalo gives a tongue-in-cheek challenge to the Academy to “grow a pair” and nominate Cholodenko for a directing nomination.
Well played, you loveable schlub.
Though, not for nothing, I’d say that the real loss would be in overlooking Debra Granik’s desolate but quietly hopeful Winter’s Bone. But why should the category be unofficially limited to recognizing one female? Nominate them both!
Relevant side-note on this topic, the nominations this year for Golden Globes were appallingly pandering to high level celebrities and, even for the HFPA, lacking in artistic credibility. Favoring star-studded “comedies” such as The Tourist while overlooking excellently written and acted, original and subtly profound smaller films such as Nicole Holofcener’s Please Give demonstrated their desire to gain ratings over honoring great work in film. But I promised I wouldn’t dwell on these obvious prejudices! Back to what did happen rather than what didn’t!
Natalie Portman brought in a win for her (in some circles controversial) role as relentlessly ambitious and dark and ultimately maddeningly determined Nina Sayers in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Her speech, to me, showed an endearingly dorky side she doesn’t always show and also celebrated motherhood as a vessel of greatness and legacy. But of course nothing can stop the press from dwelling on how she stays so fit while pregnant.
Now: what to make of Aaron “Smart Girls Have More Fun” Sorkin. For those of you who didn’t watch, Sorkin took the prize for Best Screenplay for Facebook saga The Social Network and gave a special shout-out to his daughter assuring her that “elite is not a bad word” and “smart girls have more fun.” What to make of such an anecdote from the man who wrote the probably most-celebrated misogynist script of the year. I saw it twice, the first time for enjoyment, the second time for closer examination of the issues presented to me from those whose opinions I trust, and who I do agree with. Women are accessories in this fictitious rise to power of Facebook despite their integral role in the company’s success. Was Sorkin’s anecdote meant to quell criticisms of perpetuating patriarchy? Or was it sincere? Who knows. Really, in my opinion, the movie is an all-too-conveniently-timed adaptation of Citizen Kane that has earned success because of historical and cultural context that it warped to make the story more marketable to old, white men. Plus all these accolades given to (hot) Andrew Garfield for this when he was infinitely better in Never Let Me Go (also criminally overlooked this awards-cycle).
I’ll leave this post with three last comments: 1) Ricky Gervais gave HFPA exactly what they were asking for in, as put by Ross Everett, “[putting] a knife in the hand Hollywood uses to pat itself on the back” and RDJ’s snide comment about Gervais should have been omitted, which would have made the transition to his (perhaps predatory) joke a bit smoother. 2) I love high-end clothing with pieces that cost more than I make in a month as much as the next gay, but let’s keep the body snarking to a minimum and let’s ensure we’re being equal opportunity employers in our criticisms. 3) Hollywood, let’s up the opportunity for success for people of color, and let’s make sure it’s not monopolized by one consistently limiting auteur who turns moving and complex metaphors for femininity into one-noted melodramatic messes. And let’s make sure that when that work does happen, it’s appropriately recognized.